Iskander: Blog


TMEA editing in final phase

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Through my Eyes. Again. is now back with my editor for a final run at grammar and punctuation.This has meant that I have had time to continue work on the sequel, Through different Eyes. The first draft of Chapter 6 is now up on my Patreon (see the link in my profile).

The editing: ‘looking’ at issues

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My editor returned the text of Through my Eyes. Again. in under 10 days - much faster than I had expected - and I am now working on a myriad of suggestions. The first result of this is that Chapter 6 of the sequel Through Different Eyes has languished and still exists in outline only - my apologies. As we are also fast approaching the end of a truly chaotic, Covid-19 impacted Academic year here in Australia, my free writing time will be further reduced. I am however determined to get the draft of chapter 6 out before Christmas - after all, editing things like comma usage can be mind-numbing and I will need creative breaks.

One of the issues raised by my editor was to examine every use of the word 'look' (and its variants such as 'looked', 'looking' etc) as I had perhaps overused it. I have lost count of the times I have read through TMEA - but I hadn't noticed that problem, so it couldn't be a big issue. I loaded up the complete text in Word and told it to search for 'look' - 953 occurrences it dispassionately advised me. My brain leapt out of my skull and did a quick, yammering circuit of the house. In a twenty-chapter book, that is nearly fifty occurrences per chapter and approaching 1% or the total word count.

Once I had recovered a modicum of balance, I gritted my teeth and set to working this issue. Upon examination, some of the offending sentences can just be pruned as not advancing the story. Others required a minor rewording - but some necessitated deep thought and reworking across several sentences and occasionally paragraphs. After 8 chapters, I have reduced the 'look' and variants to 503 and the task continues. The current record is eight occurrences on one page and I have found only a single occurrence that cannot be changed - a reference to Alice's looking glass.

My excellent editor has pointed out a number of other issues - such as 'show, don't tell' in a few places, a possible pruning of a particular content type and several ideas for extension related to a couple of characters.

This is going to keep me busy for a while…

Through my Eyes. Again. - Working with an Editor

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I have been pondering hiring a professional editor to work with me on Through my Eyes. Again.. I received useful feedback from readers here and elsewhere and a few kindly souls agreed to read and provide more detailed feedback. After much thought, about 10 days ago I finally selected an editor. Since then, she has been firing chapters back to me and I have been racing to work through them.

Many of the edits are simple and require almost no thought on my part: for example, the way I had formatted dialogue between lines was, apparently incorrect and I just needed to accept the changes. Similarly, my editor had been extending some order to my comma usage, which apparently is a bit variable.

Then there are the 'you've used this word twice now in the last couple of paragraphs' or even more problematical 'find another way of saying "look" - it's getting boring'. These require reading through chunks of text and searching for alternate words and phrases (or even completely different sentences) that add to the meaning in the text - not a huge issue but requiring thought - sometimes considerable thought. The disappointing thing about this is that I tried hard to do this myself, but clearly failed.

Then there's the perennial one for authors - show, don't tell! I have a tendency to think in pictures and so my writing style has too much 'telling' rather than letting the action and dialogue speak for itself. Some of my beta readers have also commented that I give too much detail in places…sigh, that is another problem I'm working on.

Then there are deeper issues I'm grappling with that have resulted in some additional text in order to clarify what's happening with Will's mother and to a lesser extent his father.

All in all, this is a fascinating and yet frustrating process. I'm not sure where this is taking the book in terms of its future, but I am learning a great deal.

"Through my Eyes. Again." Sequel - draft Chapter 5

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The first draft of Chapter 5 of Through different Eyes (the sequel to Through my Eyes. Again.) is now available on my Patreon. The link for this is in my profile.

Once again, my thanks to those of you who provided feedback on TMEA through the survey. The survey (the link is in my profile) remains open, so please head there if you have comments on TMEA.

Take care of you and yours in these strange times.


Through my Eyes. Again. feedback

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I recently conducted a short reader survey asking for feedback on "Through my Eyes. Again."

It was particularly interesting to read one set of feedback from a reader that did not like the book. Whilst reading the feedback of readers that enjoyed "Through my Eyes. Again." is interesting and useful, as a new author reading the criticisms of someone that did not like it is definitely harder - but rewarding none-the-less.

This respondent felt that there were too many loose ends left hanging. For example, what happened to Will's father and what about that anonymous letter. Will's father simply stops appearing and despite Will and his mother worrying that the anonymous letter's sender is about to resurface at one point, who sent it and why is not revealed.

The writing principle, known as Chekov's Gun, is that every element in a story must be necessary and elements should not make 'false promises' by never being used once they have been mentioned.

Against this stand authors like Ernest Hemingway, who value inconsequential detail, whilst acknowledging that readers may well read into them significance and symbolism unintended by the author.

Both approaches to writing are valid but, to the disappointment of this particular reader, my writing follows Hemingway and not Chekov. I found it illuminating that this reader read through to the end - held by the characters despite the growing frustration that appeared in the survey responses.

These (and other) differences in approach are part of the reason we have authors we like and dislike - and these are valid decisions we all make.

Do you subscribe to Chekov's gun or are you a follower of Hemingway?

Take care of you and yours in these strange times,

PS: I have reasons for leaving those two loose ends (and the others) that I'm happy to discuss on Discord as inevitably such discussion will result in spoilers.